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Chicago Public Schools Releases ‘Healing-Centered Framework’ a Multi-Year Plan to Address Trauma

22 March 2021

$24 Million Will Support Multi-Year Partnership with Chicago Beyond and Children First Fund to Promote Wellness, Safety, and Support for CPS students

CPS Office of Communications

Phone: 773-553-1620
Twitter: @chipubschools
Facebook: chicagopublicschools

CHICAGO – Today, Chicago Public Schools (CPS), in partnership with Chicago Beyond and the Children First Fund: the Chicago Public Schools Foundation, announced a first-of-its-kind, multi-year effort to build upon the district’s foundation of supports through the ‘Healing-Centered Framework,’ a transformative roadmap and collection of resources for CPS to proactively and responsively meet the wellness needs of each individual student. The effort, which is funded by a $24 million investment over the next three years, will ensure every school has a behavioral health team and a trusted adult in the building to support students, and more. The initiative is centered around comprehensive and holistic healing and has been shaped by ideas and feedback from hundreds of teachers, staff, students, administrators, CPS families, and community partners. The Framework focuses not only on the wellness of students but on the wellness of the adults like school staff, families, and caregivers that support them. 

“Fundamental to our commitment to educate the whole child is a focus on our students’ social and emotional wellbeing,” said CPS CEO Dr. Janice K. Jackson. "Trauma is a debilitating force that can derail a student’s focus, and as educators we need to ensure our students feel entirely supported both in and out of the classroom. Now more than ever, we are committed to the mental and emotional wellbeing of our students and I’m proud to be able to expand our already robust SEL supports for every CPS student.”  

"As we move into our post-COVID recovery, we must also focus on the social, emotional, and educational recovery of our students," said Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot. "Thanks to this new framework, we will be able to create the spaces and resources our students need to heal from this tortuous year and thrive. I want to thank Chicago Beyond and the Children First Fund for investing in our students and building on our ongoing work to help them rise above the challenges this pandemic has presented to their social and emotional wellbeing."

Trauma is so common that most people – including students, staff, families, and caregivers – have experienced it in their lifetimes.  According to the CDC, almost two out of every three adults have experienced at least one adverse, or potentially traumatic, childhood event. Additionally, the experience of trauma extends far beyond adverse childhood experiences to include historical and racial trauma, as well as the social conditions in which many communities are contending with daily. Today, this trauma has been exacerbated as cities across the country continue the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic and reckon with racial injustices.  

“As a former CPS principal, I’ve witnessed how traumatic experiences can disrupt a young person’s academic performance, personal relationships, and future opportunities in life,” said Founder and CEO of Chicago Beyond Liz Dozier. “I’ve also seen how investing in healing can yield incredible results. Yes, increases in academic performance and attendance, but healing also allows kids to be kids and to feel empowered to show up in ways that are true and authentic to themselves. It’s been our privilege to help CPS articulate this bold vision for healing so that all CPS students can reach their full potential.”  

Beyond a single program or intervention, the Healing-Centered Framework presents a comprehensive and holistic vision – one that will require dedicated effort in the coming years as well as partnership from the full CPS community. Through prior investments, the district has spent more than $1 million dollars on expanding existing initiatives such as training staff members on trauma-engaged curriculum. To build upon these efforts, the district will spend an additional $8 million per year over the next three years with funding from several different sources including grants, philanthropic donations and federal stimulus dollars tied to COVID-19 pandemic relief. Going forward, the costs associated with the Healing-Centered Framework will be built into the district’s general operating budget as this effort is a collaboration across multiple CPS departments. 

“Now more than ever before, we’re seeing how trauma can impact a student’s mental health and wellbeing,” said CPS Chief Education Officer, LaTanya D. McDade. “The Healing-Centered Framework will ensure our educators have the resources to support students and themselves when dealing with the lasting effects of trauma. It is our goal to bring this framework to every CPS classroom to make sure all our students feel safe and supported.” 

CPS recognizes the need to bolster school-level mental health supports in the coming years to meet the needs of students, staff, and families. As part of the Healing-Centered Framework, over the next 3 years, CPS commits to: 

  • Expanding Behavioral Health Teams to all CPS schools to coordinate wellness support and ensure targeted supports reach those students that could most benefit from them  
  • Having at least one staff member in every building trained in group interventions to support students on topics like trauma, anger, and depression  
  • Expanding the number of schools with at least one community partner providing support on social-emotional learning or mental health 
  • Curating a coordinated set of professional development opportunities for staff 
  • Developing resources for families and caregivers to be healers for their children, while still supporting their own healing 
  • Building a comprehensive set of resources and supports for staff wellness 

Establishing a robust network of community partners to support each school's unique healing needs

Recognizing the urgency of the moment, CPS has already taken significant steps to build out resources to respond to the growing need for support this school year. More than 1,000 staff members have been trained in small group evidence-based interventions, including Rainbows’ “Silver Linings,” a curriculum to support students experiencing grief and loss in the event of community trauma (such as a nationwide pandemic). The district has launched a pilot program to train 30 6th-8th grade teachers and 10 counselors in Stress and Coping, a curriculum of 20 lessons and activities that help students build healthy coping skills and enhance resilience in the face of stress. To navigate the challenges of this year, several schools have been using healing circles to support the overall wellness of staff. 

In 2019, CPS, led by the Office of Social Emotional Learning and The Children First Fund, and Chicago Beyond came together to lay the groundwork for this vision. Since its launch in 2016, Chicago Beyond has been committed to healing communities through a holistic and comprehensive approach. To learn more about Chicago Beyond please visit

To learn more about the Healing-Centered Framework, visit: 

Chicago Public Schools serves 341,000 students in 638 schools. It is the nation’s third-largest school district.